So, you’ve just gotten a new tattoo, right in time to show it off this summer at the beach in your new swimmers! But do you know how to look after that tattoo??
First things first; when you tattoo is fresh and still healing… A new tattoo has no sunblocking capabilities and will sunburn in as little as 3 minutes in direct sunlight. Sunburn will result in prolonged healing time, excessive scabbing and certainly some colour loss. So you want to avoid direct sunlight at all costs until your new tattoo is fully healed. Sunscreen or sunblock will not protect your tattoo, you need to stay in the shade, or cover your tattoo with thick, breathable and natural fabrics. Or just stay indoors! 😀
Once your tattoo is fully healed, it can cope with some sunlight, depending on a few things like placement on your body, the inks and colours that were used, and the style of tattoo it is. However, if it can be avoided, stay out of the sun altogether if you want the colours to stay bright and the lines sharp for the rest of your life.
But living in Australia with the beautiful beaches, fabulous bush walks and awesome beer gardens, and pretty much year round sun, it is difficult to stay out of the sun unless you’re a hermit. So, here are our recommendations on what you can do. Please keep in mind, this is a guide on how to protect the ink in your tattoo from harmful UV rays, not your skin.
Cover Up : This is your second best option to staying out of the sun. Flimsy, see through and lightweight fabrics will not fully block the UV rays. It will be better than nothing, but not the best option. You can wear a UV reflective “rashie” whilst swimming at the beach or in a pool, or wear a thick, fabric covering. If you hold the fabric up to the sun, and you can see light coming through it, then the UV rays can get through too. You are also able to get completely UV protectant umbrellas and sun shades for the beach or picnics from places like The Cancer Council and outdoor stores like Anaconda. The ones you buy in a convenience store or service station are usually not SPF rated.
Cream Up : There are two types of creams readily available on the market for sun protection, chemical absorbers and surface blockers. The chemical absorbers are your usual everyday sun screens that rub in clear on the skin. These do not protect your tattoo pigments from UVA or UVB harmful rays. Tattoo pigments are not lightfast, which means they will fade. Like leaving a picture in the sun, a painting by the window or any other object that has been left in the sunlight over time, it fades out and eventually is destroyed. What will work is white zine oxide or titanium dioxide cream. This white and shiny cream reflects and scatters the UV radiation away from you and keeps you safe and your ink perfect and bright all day.
And that’s it. At the end of the day, if you are a keen collector of colorful tattoos then you have to make a choice, the tattoos or the sun. You can’t have both. Going with black only tattoos or black and grey shaded work is an option, the sun will still fade these out over time, but they won’t get as much visible damage of full colour tattoos, which are prone to completely changing colours! Pinks and yellow turn to browns, its not pretty!
Alas, life is meant to be lived.. our advice is to let your new tattoo spend at least a season out of the sun completely so it can ‘settle’ into the skin and then just be smart with the sun. The quickest way to ruin a new tattoo is immediate exposure, as newly formed skin on a fresh tattoo has no natural sun blocking capabilities.
For more info, you can read our extensive Sun Care fact sheet here! And as always, any questions, do not hesitate to contact us! Happy summer everyone!